|Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency|
The origins of consumer protection in Victoria are to be found in legislation relating to the labelling of goods administered by the Department of Labour and Industry. However, the Consumer Protection Act 1964 was the first specific legislation to provide protection for consumers.
The Ministry of Consumer Affairs was established under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs Act 1973 (No.8442) on 3 June 1974. to protect and promote the interests of consumers.
A Minister and Director were appointed and The Ministry superseded the Consumer Protection Bureau (VA 2735). and the Consumer Affairs Council which were brought together under the umbrella of the Ministry. Two statutory authorities were also created, the Motor Car Traders Committee and the Small Claims Tribunal.
Between 1974 and 1981 the Ministry remained subordinate to the Department of Labour and Industry which controlled the Ministry's finances and personnel. In 1981 it became a Department of State in its own right.
Following significant machinery of government changes after the election of the first Kennett Government in October 1992, the Department of Justice (VA 3085) was established. Under Administrative Arrangements Order No.114 the Department assumed most functions of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs.
The functions of the Ministry are:
to protect and promote the interests of consumers
to investigate any matter affecting such interests
to advise and co-operate with government departments, statutory authorities and municipalities
to initiate, promote and encourage practices for the protection of consumers
to inform consumers of their rights and responsibilities
to administer the Consumer Protection Act 1972
The Residential Tenancies Act 1980 (No.9514) consolidated and updated legislation relating to a wide range of tenancy matters including rents, repairs and maintenance, use and conditions of premises and the termination of leases. Prior to the commencement of the Act, the Rental Investigation Bureau, located within the Law Department (VA 864), had endeavoured to investigate and negotiate resolutions to complaints of excessive rent. Upon the establishment under the Act of the Residential Tenancies Tribunal (VA 1615) and the Residential Tenancies Bureau (within the Ministry of Consumer Affairs) the functions of the Rental Investigation Bureau were provided with a legislative basis and transferred to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and the Tribunal. The establishment of the Residential Tenancies Tribunal also brought functions and powers previously held by Fair Rents Boards (VA 2586) for the determinations of rent of prescribed premises into the portfolio of the Minister of Consumer Affairs.
Whilst the Tribunal is a statutory body which reports directly to the Minister, it works closely with the Ministry for Consumer Affairs in administering the Residential Tenancies Act. In particular, the Ministry has a role in raising public awareness of tenancy issues, in seeking to resolve disputes prior to legal action being taken and in further developing policy and legislation in relation to residential tenancy. When the Tribunal commenced operations, the Residential Tenancies Bureau was established within the Ministry to carry out these functions and provide administrative support to the Tribunal. Internal restructuring has seen the Bureau incorporated into the Ministry's Adjudication Division.
Small Claims Tribunal
Like the Residential Tenancies Tribunal, the Small Claims Tribunal (VA 1616) reports upon its operations directly to the Minister for Consumer Affairs and receives administrative support from the Ministry through the Adjudication Division. It works closely with the Ministry in seeking to resolve disputes prior to recourse to adjudication and in promoting awareness of consumer rights and obligations.
Weights and Measures
In 1984 the Ministry assumed responsibility for the central administration functions of the Weights and Measures Act 1958 including ensuring the accurate measurement of physical quantities in trading transactions.
In 1985 responsibility for matters relating to the regulation of fuel prices was assumed by the Department of Industry, Technology and Resources (VA 2661).
In September 1989 the Minister of Consumer Affairs became responsible for the monitoring of prices and for price restraint programs carried out by the Office of Prices. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs has since that time been responsible for providing corporate services support to the Office of Prices.
Location of Records
See List of Holdings, 2nd edition 1985, section 3.7.0.